Laina Turner, Author
L.C. Turner, Author

Pets and Perjury a Paw Paws Pet Bakery Cozy Mystery Book 2 – First Chapter

Chapter 1

“Thank you for stopping in Paw Paws. I hope Princess likes her new collar and the blueberry scones,” I said to the customer and her Frenchie, whom I had just rung up. 

I grinned as another customer came in. Paw Paw’s Pet Bakery had gotten off to a rough start, but in the months the bakery had been open, things had gotten better and better. My dream business was a reality.

My name is Myrtle Moore, but everyone calls me Tillie. Myrtle was my grandmother’s name and while I loved the family connection, I had quickly created a nickname in fifth grade when the mean girl of the class started calling me Myrtle the Turtle. Luckily, my parents had understood, and I got my revenge later that year when the same mean girl finally got caught being mean and was suspended from school for a week.

I moved to Sweet Haven, Michigan, from Alabama after my divorce. I didn’t care to see my ex-husband of twenty-five years flaunting his new hussy around town. My kids were in college at University of Michigan, and my favorite aunt had died, leaving me her house in Sweet Haven. It didn’t take much for me to decide to move into my aunt’s house and take my divorce settlement to open a bakery catering to pets. It had been my dream for years, and as a woman of a certain age, it was an amazing feeling seeing my dream come true.

Sweet Haven expanded in size during the summer months due to tourists. It was a quiet little town on Lake Michigan, which was a bustling destination from May through September for families who flocked to the beach to enjoy vacation. I opened the bakery in the fall last year and now was entering my first full tourist season. Business had exceeded my expectations thus far and I couldn’t wait to see what summer would bring. I felt a weight leaning against my leg, pushing me out of my thoughts. Looking down, I saw Daisy, my St. Bernard.

“Hey, girl.” I reached over and scratched her behind the ears. Daisy promptly slid to the floor and rolled over for a belly rub. I obliged and wondered where Beans, my miniature Vietnamese pet pig, was. He and Daisy usually came to work with me. I liked having them with me and as I was currently the only employee, I worked every day from open to close and I would feel so guilty if I left them at home all day.

They had beds behind the counter, and I assumed Beans was still sleeping, which was what Daisy had been doing until just a minute ago. Beans had a sixth sense about anyone getting attention but him, and I saw him come around the corner and waddle his way over to me, immediately nosing my hand with his snout as if to say, “Pet me now.”

“You two are attention-mongers,” I said, laughing. Though I wouldn’t trade them for anything. The bell on the front door chimed and I looked up to see my friend Hilary walk in. She owned the local coffee shop, The Sweet Haven Beanery, and had been my first friend in Sweet Haven. Well, the first of three friends, along with Georgina and Chelsea. They had come over to meet me and had quickly enveloped me into their friend group after an unfortunate incident that had brought the police to my door.

“Hey, I wasn’t expecting you to pop in. What’s going on?” I stood up and immediately Beans and Daisy ran over to Hilary, demanding attention, as if they hadn’t already got it from me.

Hilary didn’t respond right away, her priority being the animals, but that was okay in my book. Finally, she looked up at me. “No special reason. Just out running errands and thought I’d stop in and say hi before heading back to the coffee shop. I’m not in a rush since it’s our mid-afternoon lull.”

“I’m glad you did. How is that new girl you hired working out? Lisa? Wasn’t that her name?”

Hilary nodded. “Yes, it’s Lisa, and she’s doing great. She’s really picked things up fast, and that’s important since over the month of May we will see a steady increase in business that will then be crazy starting Memorial weekend.”

“I’ve been thinking about that. I admit working seven days a week is starting to wear me down. I’m not as young as I used to be.” I chuckled. Though I was happy my work schedule had helped me lose a few pounds. Working so much had cut into my mindless eating because I was bored. I definitely wasn’t bored these days and only ate what I brought to work.

“You should. I think you’re crazy working open to close every day, but I understand why. It’s just going to get harder when your traffic picks up. You need to hire someone for a few days a week to help you during your busy time of day, but also allow you a day off once in a while or at least to leave earlier or come in later. Besides, what happens if you get sick or something?”

“I’ve thought about that. I need to have a backup plan.”

“There’s a job board at the Methodist church and also one at the gas station.”

“The gas station?” I questioned.

“It makes sense if you think about it. Everyone needs to go there, and even if they don’t need a job or have a job to offer, the board gets a lot of eyes on it and word of mouth takes care of the rest.”

“You’re right. Thanks. I’ll check it out.”

“Of course.” She leaned over to pet Beans and Daisy again. “I better get back. I have some cupcakes I need to frost.”

“Speaking of cupcakes, any word on what’s going to happen with The Muffin Tin?” The Muffin Tin was a bakery that had been closed since last fall.

“I heard someone bought it, but that’s just gossip.”

“I hope that gossip is true.”

“Me too. I’d like to get back to just making scones, biscotti, and dessert bars. I’ve just felt guilty since the place closed and there is nowhere in town to get a good muffin or cupcake. The ones they sell at the grocery store are always dry. Anyway, I’ll talk to you later.”

“Bye, Hilary. Thanks for stopping by.”

Hilary walked out as a couple of customers walked in and it stayed that way for the remainder of the day. That had been fairly typical the last few months. Not crazy busy, but slow and steady, which I liked. It was manageable for me on my own, but Hilary was right. I needed to get some help.

Six o’clock finally rolled around, and after ringing up the last customer, I locked the door and took the cash drawer to the back, Daisy and Beans following me. We went into the office, and I sat down, pulling over my calculator so it was within reach, and started my nightly closing routine. Then I went to the computer and Googled job descriptions for part-time bakery help. Although baking the pet treats was my favorite part, it would be helpful to have someone who could do customer service and bake in a pinch.

I found a couple of examples that gave me a good starting point to go from, as I hadn’t ever written a job description before, and after about an hour, I had what I felt was a good one. I added my contact information to the bottom and then printed off a few copies. The church would be closed right now, but I could swing by the gas station on my way home.

“Are you guys ready to go home?” I said to Daisy and Beans. 

I knew I was. My stomach was starting to growl, and I was sure they were ready for dinner too. It was past our normal dinner time, but I wanted to get the job posted before I chickened out and changed my mind. A few more minutes wouldn’t kill us.

We walked out through the back to where my car was parked. Getting Beans’ ramp from the back of my Jeep, I set it up and he climbed in the back seat where I buckled him in. After putting the ramp back, I opened the passenger door for Daisy, and she jumped in. Both of them were buckled in for safety. I jumped in and did the same. I pulled out of the parking lot and was turning right on Main St. to head home when my phone rang. I rummaged around in my purse until my fingers landed on my phone and pulled it out to see it was Hilary.

“Hi, Hilary. What’s up?”

“Oh, Tillie, come quick,” she said, and I could hear panic in her voice. 

I heard sirens getting closer and wasn’t sure if that was through the phone or not, though the coffee shop was next door to my bakery on the opposite side of The Muffin Tin.

“What’s wrong, Hilary? Where are you?”

“I’m still at the coffee shop. Please, just come.” 

She hung up before I could ask any more questions. I felt a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. “Sorry, guys. We’re going to have to wait a little longer for dinner.” I pulled a U-turn after making sure no cars were coming to head to Sweet Haven Beanery. I turned right down the alley to get to the back entrance of the coffee shop and could already hear police sirens flashing in her parking lot. I hoped Hilary was okay.

Laina Turner Signature